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Civic Leader: 'I Want Cops, And I Want Them Now'

Town supervisor said targeted enforcement efforts could be coming soon.

Brad Bender, president of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Civic Association, has had enough.

Enough of escalating crime, including prostitutes and drug dealers who engage in illegal activity on the streets of Riverside and Flanders in broad daylight -- and enough of insufficient police protection.

The community, Bender said, clearly only has one sector car -- down from two -- patrolling an area where population is higher than ever and crime is on the rise.

And he said it's the responsibility of the Southampton Town board to take action and protect residents.

"I'm tired of our community being held hostage over police protection because a bunch of people in a town board room in Southampton can't find a way to get along," Bender said. "The people that are suffering are the people here. Residents are coming to me and telling me they're afraid to be in their own homes -- they're buying dead locks."

In September, FRNCA members brought their concerns over blatant crime in their communities to New York State Troopers. 

"A town this affluent should be ashamed," Bender continued. He said although 120 police are recommended to staff the Southampton Town police department, currently there are only 89 employed.

Bender said he did not understand what was going on with the Southampton town board. "Why can't we seem to give the people in this community the protection they deserve? It's ludicrous. I'm absolutely livid."

Residents in the audience suggested a petition be started.

Bender said the amount of overtime being paid to senior officers is higher than what a new officer would be paid. "The math doesn't work," he said.

Residents agreed they would rather pay a bit more in taxes to keep their community safe with additional police presence.

"We're putting our community at risk by not protecting our residents -- that's the bottom line," Bender said. "When your residents are locking themselves in their houses because they're afraid, there's a problem."

He added, "Everyone wants to play political ping pong. I want cops -- and I want them now. We need more sector cars.

Residents and Bender, as well as FRNCA vice-president Vince Taldone, thanked the police that are out patroling the streets and working hard to keep neighbors safe.

FRNCA members considered what it would take to hire their own sector car.

Taldone said an online petition could be effective.

FRNCA members asked where town board liasion Bridget Fleming had been during recent meetings. "Can we get a new town liasion?" one resident asked.

Bender commented Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst for her constant presence at Riverside economic development meetings, as well as her work to help storm-ravaged residents of Bayview Pines get back on their feet after Hurricane Sandy.

Throne-Holst said, of the crime in Riverside and Flanders, that something needs to be done. "I agree that there is a systemic problem, both with crime and code violations in that area. We need to address it," she said.

After the hurricane, Throne-Holst said the town reached out to other law enforcement agencies including the state troopers, for extra protection and stepped-up patrols, to guard against looting.

"That level of patroling and code enforcement needs to be there on a regular basis until we have gotten crime under real control," the supervisor said.

To that end, a budget discussion is expected to be held Thursday with the police department and Captain Robert Pearce, acting chief of the Southampton Town police department.

Efforts could include revamping the budget and combining enforcement units. "We are looking at a plan for targeted enforcement actions, neighborhood by neighborhood, area by area," Throne-Holst said. "We are hoping to roll that out by the first of the year -- and Flanders is at the top of the list."

FRNCA decided to add a police department status report at every meeting.

AJ Via November 15, 2012 at 03:43 PM
we were told "start a neighborhood watch" when my wife complained at a town board meeting to the Chief. Yes, because the open-air crack market on East Ave will be quaking in their boots when I walk by in an orange vest. Since now they give us the hold-on sign while they hand crack off to customers stopped in the middle of the road. Sure.

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